Turkish Foreign Ministry to meet Syriac leaders

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has invited four Syriac Metropolitans to a meeting that will take place in Ankara on March 18, amid growing interest in the community.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu is also expected to participate in the meeting, alongside Turabidin Metropolitan Samuel Akta?, Ad?yaman Metropolitan Melki Ürek, Mardin-Diyarbak?r Metropolitan Saliba Özmen, and Istanbul Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin.

Ad?yaman Metropolitan Melki Ürek told the Hürriyet Daily News that the Foreign Ministry had specifically called on them to attend the meeting. “President Gül and Deputy Prime Minister Ar?nç’s inclusion of the [Istanbul] Metropolitan in their tour was a really positive step,” Ürek said referring to the events of the previous week, during which Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç brought Istanbul Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin with him to a conference held in Berlin. Çetin also accompanied President Abdullah Gül in his visit to Sweden a few days ago.

“Any official announcement regarding the topics of discussion has not yet been made. But probably, the current situation of Syriacs who fled from the violence in Syria will be on the agenda, as well as the issue of supporting those Syriacs who seek asylum in Turkey,” Ürek said.

Some of the Syrian Syriacs heading to Turkey have taken refuge in the Deyrülzafaran Monastery, located in the southeastern province of Mardin, while those with relatives in Turkey have chosen to live with them. A high proportion of the refugees passed to a third country through Turkey. Ürek said the Foreign Ministry’s invitation was very significant for them and that they were ready to play their part.